Developing Faith with Catechism

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My kids are learning so much. The three of them range in age from 9 to 12 and are tackling subjects like: Electricity, Comparative adjectives, Geology, Pre-Algebra, Revolutionary War history, and have written papers on the men and women of history like Pocahontas, George Washington, and even the ancient math-whiz Archimedes.

So much learning, so much content and yet this is only the beginning.

They’ve had to learn how to use the multiple remotes in our living room, that the milk goes back in the fridge after a bowl of cereal is poured, and that you never hug your mother early in the morning before their teeth are brushed!

With all of this memory work happening in their brains, where do we begin faith conversations? How can I capitalize on their impressionable minds with something that ties them to this faith that our family holds dear? How do I make the truths of the Gospel something they can quickly recall and use when it fits their everyday life?

Devotions are a great place to start, but with late Elementary and Pre-Teens I want them to have a great foundation that we can build devotions on as they mature and age. I’ve found something that works great for our family, and the brains of the three growing kids in our house. Catechism. That’s right, you read that correctly. Catechism.

The word “catechism” comes from the Greek word katācheō, which means “to teach, to instruct.” The word is used in Bible passages like Luke 1:4 and Acts 18:25. It can be used for any kind of teaching or instruction, but it came to refer to a specific type of teaching very early in church history. In the early church, new converts were taught the basics of Christianity by memorizing a series of questions and answers. A catechism is just that–a series of questions and answers that teach Bible truth.

For example, here are some of the catechisms we’ve learned this year; and there are many more that we will learn in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Who made you and everything? God made everything and me.

What is God like? God is our holy and almighty Creator. He cannot be seen, but he has made everything we can see.

Why did God make you? God made us to enjoy him and show his glory to others.

What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that we enter God’s kingdom through God’s cross by God’s grace.

Why does God tell us, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”? So we will rest in God and remember finished work of Jesus.

We’ve added a few catechism’s to the kids weekly spelling lists. We’ve added them to whatever vocabulary words they are learning, and I’ve thrown them into a few special “get rewarded with ice cream real quick” scenarios I create on a whim. There are many different catechisms out there, but our family settled on the wonderful NorthStar Catechism developed by my friends at Sojourn Church. You can go download a PDF of all of them and even order yourself some playing cards sized ones right now!

I think it’s pretty well stated what catechism is, and when you read over the details of them all you’ll quickly understand what they are communicating and preparing in the hearts and minds of your children. However, for clarity let me state what they most definitely are NOT.

They are NOT just another way to beat my kids over the head with more learning. They are easy to memorize, easy to learn, and fit perfectly alongside all the other things our kids have learned. If you think your own kids are not smart enough to memorize these, then you’re not giving them enough credit. It has worked for us to add catechism to what we were already asking our kids to memorize. You’ll find that they’re just different enough from what they normally memorize that it’s fun and unique.

They are NOT a way to guarantee faith in our kids. The catechisms won’t do much for their souls if learning the Catechisms aren’t marinated in their hearts by engaging in impactful spiritual conversations with their parents and others that love them. The cards are oftentimes a starting point for us, they are not the end point.

They are NOT separate from God’s Word. God’s Word is perfect and each catechism we take the time to make it clear that these answers (and many of the questions themselves) come out of the Bible. The foundation is God’s Word, and anything I can do to help bring that to the center of my kids lives, is key.

There are so many ways to teach our kids faith, and the challenge for us as parents is to find ways to make faith relevant, real, timely, and catchable to our kids. I know that the day will come when they have to decide for themselves who they will serve, but it’s my duty to help them get the right picture of what you are believing when you believe in Christ for eternity!

I Like Change

I like change.  It’s really a bizarre thing to like, but I like it when staffing changes happen (even though I hate to see strong leaders leave my team.)  I like it when our environments are switched up and changed.  Whether that’s the bedroom furniture being moved, the garage rearranged, or throwing away an old pair of shoes.

I also like life change.  I like that thrill of knowing that everything is about to change, and in that exact moment you are unsure of what the outcome will be.  Yet at the same time believing by faith that God will intercede to make this change a good one.  I like that  adventurous  fear I have before stepping out and doing something everyone says I’m crazy to try.  I don’t just like it.  I love it.

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. -Alan Cohen

Don’t miss that last part of the quote above, “for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”  That’s a powerful thought for my family and I.  I want to be guilty of movement.  I want my change to empower others.  I want the security that adventurous and exciting change will bring for me and my family.  Bring It On!

The Lie of Consensus

Consensus is defined as “general agreement among a group.”  You know where consensus comes into play in your life, right?  You want to start moving ahead with your ideas, but you feel you need some consensus from your leaders to do it.  You know what needs to be done, but you want consensus from others before moving forward.  You are burdened with a need that needs met quickly, but you want to build consensus so you won’t feel all alone meeting the need.

The danger with consensus is that oftentimes it stagnates our progress and delays our successes.  In and of itself, consensus is a great thing to have.  There are times when it is absolutely necessary to get others on your side before moving forward on something.  But there are those other times that we use the lack of consensus as an excuse to not obey what we know God has told us to do.

So how do you know when to gain consensus, and when to act quickly without it?  How should I know.  You’re the one working in your church, leading your family, and daily seeking God’s Will for your life and situation, right?  You’re already the expert.

Just refuse to buy into the lie that you NEED consensus to do anything.  Pray and act, pray and act, pray and act, and I believe you will go in the direction that you and your group need to go.

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I love to go see baseball games. Anyone that follows me on Instagram, knows that recently I drove up the East Coast to see the Orioles, Phillies, and Yankees at their beautiful ballparks. It was fun, cheap, and due to my current life circumstances…easily scheduled. The problem has always been how to affordably take my family of 5 to the same fun sporting events. Enter a new website I discovered recently. ScoreBig.com.

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There are tons of different ways to purchase event tickets online, but ScoreBig.com combines the bidding, deal-catching, low price grabbing fun of all you’ve ever seen in one fun website. For example: I just bought 5 tickets for my family to attend an Atlanta Braves game in a few weeks. Face Value on all of these tickets were $35 each. For my family, that’s a ton of money just to buy tickets to the game, and doesn’t even include parking or concessions. With ScoreBig.com, I was able to put in a bid of $20 each for the same tickets and won my bid! Saved me over $75 from what MLB would have me pay online.

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In Summer || Starr Cliff

Homemade ice cream.

Mornings on the porch with coffee and the dawn song of birds singing.

Visits from family and friends; highly anticipated,  and always better than hoped for.

Floating the river.

Baseball games.

The pool.

Bright nail polish.

Big beach hats.

Georgia awash in green.

Fireflies temping us outside…mosquitoes driving us back in.

Sweet tea in mason jars.

Loud music with the windows down.

Fresh, sweet tomatoes and fragrant basil from the garden,  devoured with slices of  mozzarella.

My gorgeous kids with tanned legs and golden hair.

Skinned knees and bug bites.

A slower pace,  a lighter heart.

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From the time I was a little girl and waited all spring for it to be warm enough to water-ski again, summer has always, always been my favorite. I could go on and on with things big and little that fill my heart in the summer months. These last few months have been hard ones for us (hard is relative of course,  and we are acutely and keenly aware that we have much to be thankful for).  I’m so truly grateful for the timing: that this figurative hard “season” of life has coincided with my literal favorite one. Seeking God and finding Him faithful just comes a littler easier to me with the sun warming my face.

As summer threatens to turn to fall, I’m admittedly a little anxious about what our future holds. But I trust He will be there in the turning and changing of the leaves just as He’s there in the easy,  natural comfort of summertime.